Back to Table of Contents for the On Course I Workshop

1. Strategy: Wise Choice Process

Application: Counseling

Educator: Allison Lomond, Counselor, College of the North Atlantic, Qatar

Implementation: After going through the wise choice process with a student in a counseling session, give the student a small, laminated business-card size card with the six steps of the Wise Choice Process printed on it. Encourage the student to use the Wise Choice Process the next time s/he faces a challenge or decision.

2. Strategy: 32-Day Commitment

Application: Counseling with first generation students

Educator: Maretta Hodges, Asst. Director, Educational Opportunity Fund, William Paterson University, NJ

Implementation: The majority of first generation college students come from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. These students often lack the benefit of having intergenerational knowledge about the culture of college. I use the 32-Day Commitment Form with these students to track specific behaviors. Each student is required to see me once per week in an individual counseling session where we review their 32-day commitment. At the end of 5 weeks, the student and I evaluate his/her progress in creating a supportive habit or eliminating a self-sabotaging habit.

3. Strategy: Affirmation

Application: One-to-One Office Visit

Educator: Tere Francis, Faculty, Reading/Academic Specialist, Doane College, NE

Implementation: When I took the On Course I Workshop, I remember having grave doubts about the worth of the affirmation activity. I actually thought the strategy was a bit contrived and hokey. I decided on the spot that this particular strategy was one I would never use with my own students. The facilitator had said at the start of the workshop that not all the strategies would appeal to everyone, and this one definitely did not appeal to me. However, less than a week later, a situation occurred that would forever change my mind about using affirmations. A young, bright, promising student in my study skills class came to my office to tell me she had to drop out of college. As she spoke, she used words to refer to herself like “loser,” “stupid,” “quitter,” and “failure.” The negative self-talk she was using about herself was astounding. Worse, she felt that that was what everyone else thought about her, too. I knew that I couldn’t let her leave my office on such a negative note. I mentally brainstormed how I could help her be more positive and the thing that came immediately to mind was…using affirmations! I reached into my desk drawer and pulled out index cards. Before I gave them to her, I asked her what she really desired to happen concerning college. She responded that she really wanted to come back as soon as possible and continue studying to be a teacher. I then had her brainstorm a list of positive attributes that she thought she needed more of to achieve that goal. She quickly fired off a long list of attributes. I then had her pick three attributes that she most wanted to have and helped her create an affirmation. I told her, “This is my gift to you. This is an affirmation that I want you to repeat to yourself every day until you believe it about yourself. Use it to stay on course to your goal of returning to college.” She took the card, burst into tears, and threw her arms around me. She said it was the best gift anyone had ever given her. She left my office smiling. Not once did I feel that what occurred during that interaction with her was contrived or hokey. To the contrary, it was positive and empowering. I now teach the use of affirmations in all of my study skills classes with life-changing results. For many students it is an empowering opportunity for them to rewrite the negative self-talk learned and internalized from their childhood.

4. Strategy: Wise Choice Process

Application: Academic Alert Conferences

Educator: Barbara Hanson, Academic Alert Coordinator, Austin Peay State University, TN

Implementation: When students contact me about an academic alert that they have received from an instructor, I meet with them to discuss their academic difficulty and we explore how they can effectively deal with the challenge. I have posted the Wise Choice Process on the wall behind where students sit when they come for this conference. Its presence reminds me not to offer advice but to guide students to discover their own best options. In the conference I use a form that includes the six steps of the WCP, with a space for each answer, and students fill in the form as they define their problem and develop a plan to improve their situation. Afterwards they take the form with them. If I am unable to get a student to come in for an appointment, I use the WCP during a phone conversation. During the conversation, I complete the form on my computer and email it to the student following our phone conference. I have also shared the WCP with my graduate assistant so she can use it in contact with students as well.

5. Strategy: Silent Socratic Dialogue

Application: Counseling Session

Educator: Jamie Dickenson, Certified Educational Planner, NC

Implementation: I use the Silent Socratic Dialogue with my students when they come for a counseling session. There are times when I feel that the students will say what they think I “want” to hear rather than what is really true for them. The SSD is a great way to get information about their true thoughts and feelings. Questions I ask include, “Do you want to be here today? ” “Is there anything specifically you do not want to talk about? ” “What do we do need to address today?” “Are things okay with you socially?” “How are things going academically?” “How can I help you today?”

6. Strategy: The Puzzle

Application: Group Therapy

Educator: Faye Freeman-Smith, Director of Student Counseling, Heartland Community College, IL

Implementation: Use the puzzle exercise in group therapy sessions to introduce the concept of self-awareness and to empower students to change undesirable behaviors. After the activity, focus the group discussion on what students noticed about themselves in the activity. Ask each group member what their thoughts, feelings and actions were that resulted in empowering or sabotaging behaviors. Focus the discussion on what new discoveries about “self” were revealed. Ask that they start journaling about their empowering thoughts, feelings and actions/sabotaging thoughts feelings and actions. In a later group session, do the puzzle exercise again. Afterwards, discuss what thoughts and behaviors have changed.

7. Strategy: Translating Victim Language to Creator Language

Application: Advising/Counseling or Any Course

Educator: Sandra Barnes, Microbiology Faculty and Pre-Nursing advisor, Housatonic Community College, CT

Implementation: When meeting with a student who is using victim language to describe a situation or problem, invite the student to choose one victim statement from those you have identified and write it down on an index card. Now have the student fold the card, and on the outside write the creator language translation for that statement. Invite the student to either take the card with them or to post it on a bulletin board space reserved to collect these cards. The bulletin board would give other students the opportunity to see how their peers have been able to master creator language. Next step: Have students come back to write the outcome of their creator action on the card, such as “passed math class ” or “got into the nursing program!”

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